Parasite survives predation on its host


As prisoners in their living habitat, parasites should be vulnerable to destruction by the predators of their hosts. But we show here that the parasitic gordian worm Paragordius tricuspidatus is able to escape not only from its insect host after ingestion by a fish or frog but also from the digestive tract of the predator. This remarkable tactic enables the worm to continue its life cycle.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Escape of parasitic gordian worms from their insect host and from the host's predators.


  1. 1

    Thomas, F. et al. J. Evol. Biol. 15, 356–361 (2002).

  2. 2

    Day, T. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 269, 1317–1323 (2002).

  3. 3

    Ebert, D. & Herre, E. A. Parasitol. Today 12, 96–101 (1996).

  4. 4

    Harvey, J. A. & Strand, M. R. Ecology 83, 2439–2451 (2002).

  5. 5

    Read, A. F. Trends Microbiol. 2, 73–76 (1994).

  6. 6

    Moore, J. Parasites and the Behavior of Animals (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, 2002).

  7. 7

    Brodeur, J. Norw. J. Agr. Sci. 16, 147–153 (1994).

  8. 8

    Choisy, M., Brown, S. P., Lafferty, K. D. & Thomas, F. Am. Nat. 162, 172–181 (2003).

  9. 9

    Parker, G. A., Chubb, J. C., Ball, M. A. & Roberts, G. N. Nature 425, 480–484 (2003).

  10. 10

    Lafferty, K. D. Parasitol. Today 15, 111–115 (1999).

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Fleur Ponton.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary information (DOC 20 kb)

Supplementary Video 1

A gordian worm (Paragordius tricuspidatus) leaves its cricket host (Nemobius sylvestris). (MOV 1987 kb)

Supplementary Video 2

A gordian worm slides out of a frog’s mouth, the frog (Rana erythraea) having eaten the cricket in which the worm was living. (MOV 2598 kb)

Supplementary Video 3

A gordian worm slides out of a trout’s gill, the trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) having eaten the cricket in which the worm was living. (MOV 838 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.